Tips for Practicing Reading at Home to Increase Reading Success
Dr. Philip Levin, Program Director,
The Help Group/UCLA Neuropsychology Program
goal of teaching your child to read should be helping to develop
a fluent and confident reader who can quickly and accurately comprehend
what they read and be able to use proper verbal skills such as rhythm,
intonation and expression when speaking.
children struggle with learning to read, the usual recommendations
are programs that include three parts: phonemic awareness, phonics
and oral reading practice. These programs are designed to teach
children to break apart and manipulate the sounds in words (phonemic
awareness). They then learn that these sounds are represented by
letters of the alphabet, which can be blended together to form words
(phonics). Finally, they practice what they've learned by reading
aloud with guidance and feedback (guided oral reading). Today, educators
believe that guided oral reading is one of the best and most consistent
methods for improving fluency in children. While instruction in
phonics and phonemic awareness programs, called "guided reading
programs," are typically given by professionals with specialized
training, as a parent, you can engage your child in guided oral
Oral Reading does not refer to a specific program, rather, it occurs
when students read out loud to a parent, teacher or another student,
who corrects their mistakes and provides them with feedback. The
process begins with choosing a book that the child can read independently.
You want to find a book that your child can read while making no
more than one error per page. If your child makes more than one
mistake, try to find an easier book to read. While silent reading
is often a requirement in school there is no evidence that shows
silent, sustained reading improves reading skills for children with
reading delays. Thus, daily oral reading for a period of at least
20 minutes is recommended for all children to improve fluency.
following are five basic tips parents should consider incorporating
into reading at home with their children, irregardless of reading
delays. As a parent, it's important to understand that reading can
be a frustrating and emotional task for a child with reading delays.
These guidelines can reduce some of the anxiety about practicing
reading at home and reinforce the value of daily practice for children
who can be easily frustrated.
Never restrict reading to a bedtime activity - Bedtime stories are
used to ease a child into sleep, reading practice needs to be done
during a period when a child is alert and ready to learn from the
process of guided reading. Try using the time as a "cool down
time" after dinner or when parents arrive home from the office.
It is excellent way to spend time with your child in quiet activity.
Preview the book with your child before reading it - It's a good
idea for parents to look through the pictures with the child and
have the child imagine what the story will be about based on the
images. This process helps with reading comprehension and teaches
the child to use the context of all of the information in book to
understand its content.
Don't be reluctant to repeat books - Parents are often concerned
that their child will memorize the text and "read" it
from memory rather than decoding the text. However, an alternate
way of thinking about that process is that a repetitive reading
of the same book is actually helping the child to recognize words
by sight. Experts estimate that the average child decodes a word
three to four times before they can recognize it by sight. The more
words that they can recognize by sight the quicker that they can
read which is one of the goals of guided reading practice.
Play number and word identification games. - Parents should try
to use the reading book for purposes other than just telling a story.
Games, such as finding every letter "Q" on a page, or
looking for everything in pairs, help children rapidly name letters
and numbers, which is a key factor in developing reading fluency.
Immediately correcting mistakes can do more harm. - Parents can
help their child more by teaching a process of how to correct pronunciation.
If we instantly correct all mistakes without teaching children how
to correct for themselves, they become dependant on others to help
them become fluent. Try asking questions when a child stumbles over
a word. Ask if the word sounds right. Ask if the word makes sense
in the sentence, or if it matches the picture. This technique helps
children learn to use context to correct themselves as opposed to
focusing on word-by-word reading processes.
guided reading practice is an important tool to help all children
achieve reading fluency, and especially important if your child
has a reading delay. It is recommended for children between the
ages of five and nine, but can be adapted at any age. It also promotes
the value of reading and perseverance through adversity. Using reading
time productively will ultimately give your child lifelong tools
to reach their fullest potential.